Ark Encounter expands tourist attraction, boasts of increased attendance

The Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky. This photo of the life-sized replica of Noah's Ark was provided in May 2019. | Courtesy of Answers in Genesis

Answers in Genesis announced that they are expanding the Ark Encounter site to include new facilities, partly in response to a growth in annual attendance.

In an announcement released on Monday, the Young Earth Creationism group said the Kentucky-based Ark Encounter was making changes to its site.

This includes the creation of a 2,500-seat auditorium with a 70-foot-long LED screen, expanding the size of the Ararat Ridge Zoo, and opening a larger family play space.

“Built by Playground Equipment Services, this family play area is accessible by all children and adults,” said Answers in Genesis.

“Parents and grandparents are encouraged to have fun with their kids as a family activity. This cutting-edge playground has been specially designed for children of all abilities.”

Answers in Genesis President Ken Ham said in a statement also released on Monday that the Ark Encounter has “experienced another increase in yearly attendance.”

“I’m very pleased to report that while most attractions see their best attendance in year one and then experience a drop-off, we’ve seen the opposite,” said Ham.

Noted for its large life-sized replica of Noah’s Ark, the Ark Encounter was opened in July 2016 as a companion site to the Creation Museum, both of which are overseen by Answers in Genesis.

According to a 2018 article published by the Courier Journal of Louisville, Kentucky, from July 2017 to June 2018, approximately 860,000 tickets to the Ark Encounter were sold. This was well below a projected 1.4 million to 2.4 million annual visitors.

Ken Ham shares his thoughts about young creation, February 2017. | (Screenshot: Youtube/Southerner)

Answers in Genesis spokesman Mark Looy told the Courier Journal at the time that the number of sales did not necessarily equal the number of visitors, as young children and lifetime pass owners enter for free.

“We are like most attractions in that we don’t release annual attendance figures,” Looy told the Courier Journal in 2018. “Furthermore, one can’t look at ticket sales to come up with the grand total.”

“Thousands and thousands of young children under 5 who have visited the ark in the past two years have attended free with their families, and they will not show up in the 862,471 amount.”

Last month, the Ark Encounter filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Allied World Assurance Company, arguing that the company wrongfully refused to cover $1 million in necessary repairs following damage caused by heavy rainfall.

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Northern Division at Covington, the lawsuit accused Allied World of acting in bad faith, breach of contract, and violating the Kentucky Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act.

“Defendants continue to contend that Plaintiffs’ loss is not covered because the physical damage was caused by faulty design or workmanship, even though the Defendants have already conceded that the policy language provides coverage for damage resulting from faulty design or workmanship,” the lawsuit states in part.

“By refusing to pay all but a very small proportion of Plaintiffs’ covered claim, the Defendants have failed to meet their Policy obligations and failed to handle Plaintiffs’ claim properly and in good faith, causing Plaintiffs to incur significant additional loss and expense.”

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